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Vermonters in the Civil War

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Collection Overview

Vermont soldiers in the Civil War wrote an enormous quantity of letters and diaries, of which many thousands have survived in libraries, historical societies, and in private hands. This collection represents a selection of letters and diaries from the University of Vermont and the Vermont Historical Society.

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Time Period Covered: January 1, 1861 - February 28, 1864 


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Title:   Henry A. Smith to Family

Creator:  Smith, Henry A., d. 1864

Date:  1862-08-14

Resource type:   correspondence

Six miles south of Culpeper (Virginia) two letters included dated Aug 15 and Aug 15. Topics include an exchange of fire near the Orange Court House, the numerous rebel deaths, injuries, and prisoners, and another terrible battle at Culpeper with references to Jackson, Banks and John Pope.

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    Title:   Henry A. Smith to Family

    Creator:  Smith, Henry A., d. 1864

    Date:  1862-07-05

    Resource type:   correspondence

    From Snickers Ferry on the Shenandoah River topics include news from Richmond, rumor that Stonewall Jackson was killed, having enough to eat including local peaches & cherries found in Virginia, horses well fed, men on picket duty, newspaper report that General McClellan taken prisoner along with 40,000 of his men, and Henry Smith's homesickness.

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      Title:   Joseph Rutherford to [Hannah Rutherford]

      Creator:  Rutherford, Joseph Chase, 1818-1902

      Date:  1863-07-07

      Resource type:   correspondence

      Writing two letters dated July 7th and 8th from South Mountain Pass, Maryland topics include the deplorable state of Rebel prisoners captured, the kindness of the Vermont Regiment towards the prisoners by giving the Confederates their rations, prisoners marching to Washington, D. C., his reflections on the battle at South Mountain that took place September 1862, Union destruction of Rebel pontoon bridges, one time the troops rejoice at the heavy rain as it keeps the river high and having potatoes and fresh berries to eat.

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        Title:   Joseph Spafford to Mary Jane Spafford

        Creator:  Spafford, Joseph, 1837-1866

        Date:  1862-12-30

        Resource type:   correspondence

        Topics include the whole brigade on picket duty on Bull Run, a catholic church having been emptied of its pews so as to used for a hospital, a brief encounter with Rebel soldiers, Spafford's anger with the Rebels being able to infiltrate the Union troops, the captured rebel prisoner stated aim was to take Sutler's supplies, acceptance of officers' resignations and the potential promotion of George Clark to Captain.

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          Title:   Justus F. Gale to Sister

          Creator:  Gale, Justus F., 1837-1863

          Date:  1862-11-18

          Resource type:   correspondence

          Topics include the being saddened by the ill health of his family in Elmore, enjoying good health himself, troops living in an apparently abandoned house in Bayou Boeuf, La., the parole of the prisoners who are still alive (not clear but these may be Union soldiers taken prisoners as some were shot for running from their army and joining a Union regiment), the movement of the army on the Potomac and still unable to get a photograph of himself taken.

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            Title:   Valentine G. Barney to Maria Barney

            Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

            Date:  1863-01-20

            Resource type:   correspondence

            News of fighting at Fredericksburg, Va. (Mud March of January 1863?), his duties regarding Quarterly Reports and keeping accounts, his worry about his brother Elisha Barney who feels must be in the fighting, reads from the newspapers that Elisha has been promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. He also writes of the weather, and reports of Rebel prisoners being sent to Camp Douglas.

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              Title:   Valentine G. Barney to Maria Barney

              Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

              Date:  1863-01-29

              Resource type:   correspondence

              Topics include a deplorable condition of the Rebel prisoners on their arrival from the Murfreesboro battle after spending 27 days in transport, Rebels lack of descent clothing or food to eat, Barney's attendance at a Temperance meeting, and still writing about the lost money but has hope of being able to be repaid as the Chaplain had a similar loss and was repaid.

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                Title:   Valentine G. Barney to Maria Barney

                Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                Date:  1863-01-31

                Resource type:   correspondence

                Written on Sherman House stationery topics include getting reimbursed for $120 stolen from an Express package, the condition of the more Rebel prisoners arriving, camp now having 4000 Confederate prisoners, attending a temperance lecture given by John B. Gough, and staying at the Sherman House, whose marble floor in the lobby was manufactured by Barney’s father.

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                  Title:   Valentine G. Barney to Maria Barney

                  Creator:  Barney, Valentine G., 1834-1889

                  Date:  1862-08-28

                  Resource type:   correspondence

                  Topics include the capturing of some Rebels at Newtown who stated Rebels do not go hungry as long a Union troops are around from which to steal food, issues with the postal mail service, the difficulty of getting rest in camp, and the sickness of the regiment.

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                    Title:   William Wirt Henry to Mary Jane Henry

                    Creator:  Henry, William Wirt, 1831-1915

                    Date:  1862-02-23

                    Resource type:   correspondence

                    Topics include a travel route planned to return home via Annapolis, Brattleboro and maybe even Burlington, the capture of 18 Rebel prisoners near Fairfax, and the hope of one of the wounded prisoners, a Virginian, to retake the oath to become a citizen of the United States again, reference to a Flag of Truce to send a letter to the Confederate Army, his side business doing poorly as the men have expected orders to move and the Sutlers not buying for the same reason.

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